Hidden workforce of 116 mn at 50 MNCs: Trade union body

Davos, Jan 18: As the rich and powerful from across the world begin congregating here for their annual jamboree, global trade union body ITUC today said just 50 MNCs have a "hidden workforce" of 116 million people in their global supply chains including in India.

"The global supply chains of 50 companies employ only six per cent of people in a direct employment relationship, yet rely on a hidden workforce of 94 per cent," as per a new research report released today by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

'Hidden workforce of 116 mn at 50 MNCs'

The report was released a day before the prestigious World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting of top global leaders, which begins here tomorrow.

"Just 50 companies including Samsung, McDonalds and Nestle have a combined revenue of USD 3.4 trillion and the power to reduce inequality. Instead they have built a business model on a massive hidden workforce of 116 million people," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, who is one of the co-chairs of this year's WEF Annual Meeting.

ITUC said the new report, titled 'Scandal: Inside the global supply chains of 50 top companies' exposes an unsustainable business model, with a global footprint that covers almost every country in the world and profiles 25 companies with headquarters in Asia, Europe, and the US.

"Sixty per cent of global trade in the real economy is dependent on the supply chains of our major corporations, which uses a business model based on exploitation and abuse of human rights in supply chains," Burrow said.

As per ITUC research, the cash holdings of 25 companies of USD 387 billion could increase the wages in their combined hidden workforce of 71.3 million by more than USD 5000 for a year. "The combined wealth of 24 companies in the US including Amazon, Walmart and the Walt Disney company, could buy Canada," it said.

Besides, nine companies in Asia including Foxconn, Samsung and Woolworths have a combined revenue of USD 705 billion, the equivalent value of the UAE, while 17 companies in Europe including Siemens, Deutche Post and G4S have a combined revenue of USD 789 billion, the equivalent value of Malaysia. As per the report, Germany's Deutsche Post DHL Group subcontracts transport services in various countries to minimise costs, an approach that unions say leaves workers vulnerable.

"Following complaints from global union federations UNI and ITF about the treatment of workers in Turkey, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries, the company has agreed to assess industrial relations in India and start bargaining in Indonesia.

"Despite this progress, issues in Hong Kong remain unresolved, and there are current allegations of injustices in India, including widespread mistreatment of staff," it said.


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